Monthly Archives: April 2013

What Happened in Vegas, pt. 1

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(Note: we will return to Disneyland blogging once I have thoroughly beaten this horse to death)

So we went to Las Vegas last Saturday to have some fun.  We took some friends with us and met other friends there.  None of these people required us to prompt them to take potty checks (although The Lovely Rhonda did anyway).  Only one of them needed a babysitter (more on that later).  And all of us were of legal age to drink anything we felt inclined to drink and/or distribute perfectly good money to various casinos in exchange for free beverages and secondhand smoke.

So in other words, a fun group of people.

(Disclaimer to participants:  I might make merciless fun of  you in this blog post, and it’s all just for laughs.  Disclaimer to readers:  certain sequences of events and/or personal traits of persons described herein may be slightly embellished for comedic flair.  Suspension of disbelief is therefore highly recommended.)

TLR and I flew in with our friend Josh on Saturday evening.  We started this thing off right by getting our drink on at the airport:

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My BFF from high school, Alison, joined us a mere half hour later.  By this time we were already steeped in ennui, as evidenced by this photo:

Vegas airport arrival

Shortly thereafter we engaged a taxi and made our way through the unwashed masses to our hotel.  In the interests of litigation avoidance, let’s just call it CARNIVAL CARNIVAL.

When we told the cab driver where to take us he said, “Oh man, CARNIVAL CARNIVAL?  Who’d you piss off?”  I am not making this up.

CARNIVAL CARNIVAL is a hotel that caters to families with children, and we are not ever staying there again.  Not because the rooms were inadequate; they were perfectly nice — but a hotel that caters to families with children is overrun with — not surprisingly — families with children.

Children who were up at all hours.  Bored, tired, whiny children in strollers that blocked the aisles.  Horrible, screamy children with permissive/disinterested/incompetent parents.

Nevertheless we endeavored to have fun, and fun we had, but not so much within the confines of CARNIVAL CARNIVAL.

It did have several things in its favor, not the least of which was the 24-hour Krispy Kreme donut counter complete with barista service.  We instantly loved the ladies staffing it when we witnessed them making merciless fun of an older couple who attempted to use a hotel-issued coupon to get a free cup of coffee.  It turned out that you only got the free coffee if you purchased a dozen donuts, and evidently this was a deal breaker for them.  It seemed to me that the bewildered husband-unit of this couple was still interested in coffee and a (single) donut, but no, the wife felt strongly that if you had to pay for the coffee it was no good.  So off they went.  We stepped up a moment later and although the Krispy Kreme ladies were being discreet about it, it was evident that there were shenanigans being perpetrated and, being us, we had no choice but to join in.

So anyway.  We checked in and went to find some dinner, as Allie had not eaten and was beginning to wilt like a delicate little flower.

Did you know, dear reader(s), that casinos in Las Vegas are HUGE?  We ambled around in increasingly frantic hypoglycemic states searching for an open restaurant within the hotel.  Finally we located one.  Unfortunately they were playing loud dance hits for the approximately zero patrons showing an interest in dancing.  We sat as far from the speakers as humanly possible, and every so often a waiter was dispatched to visit us in the hinterlands.  The food wasn’t bad, though, and they did serve drinks:

Rock and Ritas

… As  you can see, Josh doesn’t get out much.

Finally we all stumbled blearily to bed, it being 1am and myself having been up since 7am furiously cleaning and packing and so forth.  (I recall allowing TLR to sleep in a bit that morning, which I mainly do in self-defense.  A tired Lovely Rhonda is a cranky Lovely Rhonda.)

The next day we arose at the princely hour of around 9ish and got on with our day.  We purchased discounted vouchers to some shows and then traipsed from hotel to hotel turning in our vouchers for actual tickets.  We also ate things and drank things and timidly ventured into the shallow end of the gambling pool: penny slots.  Penny slots are the equivalent of training wheels for noob gamblers and those with an aversion to spending money on anything intangible, i.e. me.  We wandered idly from casino to casino, taking in the soulless debauchery, and finally I required resting.  By this time my terrible non-functional feet were essentially hamburger, so I spent my rest period laying on the bed with ice packs pressed to the soles of my feet.  GOOD TIMES, PEOPLE.

/BEGIN RANT:

Also?  Thanks, nurse practitioner, for grumbling about being asked to prescribe a few lousy TyCo and then screwing up the RX so that I couldn’t actually get it filled.  Because it makes me feel awesome to ask for pain medicine to manage my not inconsiderable pain while I attempt to do something really reasonable like enjoy my fucking vacation — you know, like other people who have normally shaped feet — and then have you piss and moan about me like I’m a drug seeker, and then make it so that I can’t pick the stupid medication up anyway.

Usually I love NPs and feel like they are great at what they do — but you can bet your shiny metal ass that I’m going to have a word with the head NP (who owns the clinic) about this.

/END RANT.

Okay, anyway back to the story.

Eventually, about midway through an episode of “Frasier,” I got the long-awaited text message from TLR.  I sprang into action and hot-footed it (literally) down to the lobby, where I found and was hugged by Mel and subsequently by her enthusiastic friend Marie.  And then TLR brought them both yard-o-margs, which set the tone for the rest of the vacation quite nicely.

yard o marg

Exhibit A: the “Yard-O-Marg.” Available in an assortment of fun colors!

Its resemblance to a bong is unsettling and merely coincidental.

So, Mel is a friend from the blogosphere.  We met ages ago on a different blog site and have been virtually stalking one another for years, long before I met TLR, but had never met in person.  Mel wanted to come to the wedding in January, but alas, her son inconveniently turned 18 that very same weekend.  So no dice.  But then when we started talking about Vegas, Mel hinted that perhaps that might be a little fun… maybe… We invited her, and she came!

And she brought her BFF, because meeting strange lesbians on your own in Vegas when you are as cute as Mel is probably a bad idea.  She had no way of knowing that we are completely harmless, unless of course you run afoul of TLR’s sense of fairness in some way.  In that case one half of us is not so harmless.  I’m harmless in pretty much all events although I do occasionally exceed the speed limit by three or four miles per hour.

So once they got checked in we dorked around and had drinks and made our way to Caesar’s Palace.

A beverage containing alcohol purchased on the patio at Caesar’s will set you back fifteen dollars.  Let’s just let that sink in for a moment:  Fifteen.  Dollars.

fifteen dollar marg

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Despit its delicious alcoholicness, TLR was a bit dismayed at the price tag.

Later that evening we saw Absinthe.

How to even describe Absinthe?

Lordy.

Okay, imagine a Cirque du Soleil show but on a miniature scale.  And then imagine that the master of ceremonies is the oiliest, most offensive person ever.  And then imagine that his assistant is a frenetic, perverse, loud, short, extremely cute girl with the foulest mouth ever.  And then let the rest of your imagination just go completely batshit crazy with all of that, and you might come close to Absinthe.  If you’re not easily offended, by all means make it a priority to see this show.  There was near-nudity, feats of daring, a high-wire act, gymnastics, foul language, sexual references, audience participation.  It was raunchy and risque and so much fun OMG.

By the time the show was over it was midnight, which was 2am Mel time, so they were exhausted and went to bed.   I think we might have stayed up a little while and gambled?  It’s all a blur.  Rumor has it that alcohol may have been involved.

I guess we’ll never know for sure.

Don’t miss the next thrilling installment:  What Happened in Vegas, pt. 2!  Coming soon to a blog near you!

Disneyland: Day One.

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So at the appointed hour of 4:45 am in the morning, we woke the spawn up.  We grown-ups had been up since four o’clock showering and getting the last minute stuff together.  Finally we got the camera ready and went and rousted them.  They looked terrifically confused and bewildered but they did get up.

What were we expecting?  Excitement, maybe.  Girlish shouting.  Gleeful jumping-up-and-down with shining eyes, etc. etc.

What did we get?  Slow, painful awareness creeping over them.  …Wait, we’re doing what?  Where?  We are?  When?  Now?  Really?  Neat!

I think it did hurry them along to get dressed and get their shoes on, which was good.  Normally this is a thirty-minute affair and we had maybe half that long before Kirsten arrived to squire us off to the airport in her Minivan of Justice.

Fifteen minutes later we were on our way, and fifteen minutes after that we were unloading the six wheeled cases and the three slightly dazed children and the five backpacks onto the curb.  The TSA guy at the security checkpoint was obnoxiously passive-aggressive and the latte I got at Coffee People was so hot that I scalded the taste buds off my tongue, but we finally made it onto the Virgin America jet.  Luckily for us the plane was stuffed full so they asked if anyone wanted to volunteer to gate-check their bags.  UM YES PLEASE, WE DO.

And what is with this thing where you pay to check your bags?  Because obviously it’s not hard enough to cough up the giant wad of cash to fly five people to Anaheim, but we must also haul our shit through the airport and on and off the plane by hand the entire way now too.  Have you ever supervised a 5, 7, and 8-year-old through this process?  THANKS A LOT, AIRLINE COMPANIES.

At any rate, I found myself sitting next to my personal mini-me, who at not quite nine years old is already nearly five feet tall.  She sat by the window and blithely glanced at the ground slipping away beneath us before turning her attention to her Nintendo 3DS.

Now, I’m not what you’d call a good flier.  I used to be, but then a couple of things happened.  The first thing was 9/11.  Yes, I know that the chances of anything like that happening again are slim, and certainly wouldn’t be likely to happen here, but it was more the whole mortality thing.  And the second thing was that I flew to Nome, Alaska when I was about five months pregnant and it was a really turbulent flight.  A really turbulent flight over frozen seas and mountains.  I was so terrified that I declined to remove my boots or jacket, figuring this might buy me a whole twenty minutes to get my affairs in order should I survive what was surely going to be the inevitable crash into a snowy peak.

We did not, in fact, crash into anything, but I’ve never really trusted flying since then.  Maybe it was the pregnancy hormones or something, but it really ratcheted up my anxiety about flying.

So here I was seated next to my sweet, innocent child on this big stupid bus with wings, trying not to betray my terror each time the plane jostled or shuddered.  And really it was a pretty smooth flight, but I spent the entire flight clinging discreetly to the armrests and very determinedly making a show of playing sudoku on my tablet so that my third grader wouldn’t be alarmed.

Such is motherhood: pretending you’re not consumed with worry about the plane crashing while your kid listens to Schoolhouse Rock and sips complimentary ginger ale.

At last, about a week later (two hours or so), we landed without incident and made our way to the rental car place via a shuttle that was driven by Mario Andretti’s Spanish-speaking cousin.  We picked up a sedate, four-door Chevy Somnolater (probably a Malibu or an Impala, but who cares) and internets, I am here to tell you:  every single one of our multitudinous luggages fit into the trunk of that thing.  Perhaps there is something to be said about American cars and their capacious storage capacity.

We then made our way to the hotel.  I will refrain from discussing how efficiently this was done and say that in her defense, The Lovely Rhonda was working with an annoying GPS service on her phone that wasn’t the best at letting you know very far in advance which direction you may wish to travel on a given roadway.  This was less than useful when approaching an exit that gives you a choice between, say, East and West.  Nevertheless, we eventually made it to the hotel even allowing for a pit stop for coffee and Valium other essentials.

The hotel had a big atrium in it, and in the atrium was a pond with little bridges over it, and in the pond were the biggest, most ginormous fish!  And turtles!  fish

… Which the children found to be super interesting and fun to watch and name.

Once we unpacked, i.e. threw our collective shit everywhere in the room and fondled the miniature soaps and shampoos, we gathered up some essentials — money, mostly — and left for That Place in California that we’d heard of this one time.

It was a relatively short drive and pretty soon we found ourselves driving past this:

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No idea who any of these losers are. FOCUS, PEOPLE! LOOK AT THE SIGN!

Shortly thereafter we found ourselves surrendering our bags for a cursory search, showing our tickets to the smiling cast members at the turnstile — and there we were, inside the hallowed gates of Disney’s California Adventure theme park.

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I greatly enjoyed the name of this shop although we did not eat here:

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Roving streetcars full of singing newsboys and newsgirls inched past on occasion.  Sometimes Mickey was aboard!disney 2013 034

Eventually we made our way to A Bug’s Land, where everything is made to resemble the set of A Bug’s Life.  There were giant clovers shading you as you walked around:disney 2013 039

And the lights were fireflies with butt cones:

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The Lovely Rhonda and her girls rode this twirly ride:

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…but Delia would have none of it.  She declined any ride that left the ground or went down fast steep hills (like roller coaster type rides).  So we watched and took pictures.

Like, a lot.

Le sigh.

We did find a ride in this area that Delia liked.  It was a wee little ride of ladybugs spinning around, similar to the teacups ride in Fantasyland at Disneyland.  She and I rode this and we loved it.  I didn’t get a picture, but imagine teacups that look like ladybugs, shaded by giant clovers.

We all rode this ride:

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We rode a big caterpillar around through giant half-eaten foods.  disney 2013 047

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Then we moved on to Luigi’s Flying Tires, which are big tires you majestically careen around on and gently bump into each other.  It’s on a giant air-hockey table kind of surface, and it’s the most genteel bumper car you’ll ever ride.

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One of the things I love about Disney is the attention to very silly detail.

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Toward evening we rode another Delia-approved ride, Mater’s Tractor something or another.  It involved — you guessed it — spinning without leaving the ground or going down any hills.  And it was really fun.  disney 2013 062

Pretty soon it got dark, and we had to buy — HAD TO, I SAY — these light-up wand thingies for the children.  Which we regretted almost immediately because hello, they are big sticks designed to be swung around in the dark.  Who designs these things?

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Not long thereafter, we bid Disneyland’s California Adventure adieu:

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And then we made our way back to the parking lot:

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And that brought Day One to a close.  We were exhausted, having been up since 4am, and we all slept like dead bodies.

Man for a day

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So this morning was Monday.  It turned out to be Monday all day long.

First thing I decided to take the car in for a quick emissions check because the tags are expired.  One of the things I meant to do before we left for vacation, but you know how it goes.  Kinda didn’t think about the fact that the check engine light had been on for a while.  We’d had it looked at by our local shop and they told us that an oxygen sensor was out.  “But you have two,” they said, “So you can drive it like this without any problems.”

Neither I nor The Lovely Rhonda really connected this with emissions testing, but it turns out we should have.  The pimply faced teen at the emissions place smugly informed me that it failed because of the bad sensor.  I wanted to smack him and yell, BUT IT HAS TWO SENSORS AND THE OTHER ONE WORKS!  But, I held that in.  I just said it inside, where it counts.

I took it directly to our local shop, again, and dropped it off for repair.  How much for a new sensor, you ask?  I asked the same thing.  “Well, I won’t know until I look it up,” said Jack, “Could be a hundred dollars, could be six hundred.”  Yikes.

Pretty soon the sullen rental car agency guy came to get me.  “Sorry if I’m not all that talkative,” he eventually said.  “I’m operating on about one hour of sleep.”  Judging from his appearance and general demeanor, I’d say he must have spent the rest of the night smoking interesting things and playing PS3 games with his loser buddies, but I didn’t say that out loud either.  We drove on in companionable silence while I wondered which utility pole Mr. No Sleepy was going to slam us into.

We arrived at the agency in due time and I was taken out to the parking lot to choose my trusty steed.  Which ones are up for grabs?  “Oh,” said the perky young lady clerk, “Anything from those two rows.”  There was a few boring white sedans, a dark red Honda.  And then I saw it.  At the end.  The black one.

“Uh, okay, um, I guess I’ll take that one over there, that one on the end,” I said, nonchalantly wiping a small amount of drool from the corner of my mouth.

“Oh, the Charger!”  She turned to walk me back into the office.  “That one’s very popular with the younger male drivers.  Like, 24 to 29 years old age range.  They always ask for that one too!”

After the walk-around and the signing of the papers — she even had the slack-jawed lot jockeys wash it again, because it needed it — I drove off in all my rented glory.

charger

Friend(s), I was Walter Mitty for a day.  I drove that thing like an extremely repressed boss.  I took off slightly faster than average at stoplights and careened around corners on 3.95 wheels.  I turned the Soft Rock Hits of the 80’s, 90’s and Today up rather louder than usual and enjoyed the deep bass, mainly because I couldn’t figure out how to turn it down.  I even went several miles above the speed limit at times.

I know.  I almost don’t know who I am anymore!

I posed a picture of the car on Facebook and TLR commented, “You’re the man.  That is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen.”  She was in the minority though.  All the really cool people thought it was neat.

This evening we dropped the rental car off before going to get my trusty old Mazda back.  I dropped the keys into the key return thing at the rental car agency.  They clunked down into the hollow armored post with an air of finality.  I sighed and walked away to climb into the minivan.

Maybe someday.

(Hey, if she thinks it’s ugly maybe TLR won’t want to borrow it?)